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Vocabulary: apology 词汇:道歉

Sorry! 道歉的价值!

A naughty student that became Education Secretary?

Is 'sorry' the hardest word? Not for the British Education Secretary Michael Gove, who has apologised recently to his former French teacher for misbehaving in class.

It took him 30 years to express regret for, as he said, competing with his classmates to ask "clever-dick questions" and indulging in "pathetic showing off".

In a letter published in a magazine, Mr Gove says: "It may be too late to say I'm sorry. But, as my mum told me, it's never too late to set the record straight."

It seems contrite politicians are in fashion. A recent apology on video by the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, has become a hit on the internet.


Mr Clegg wanted the electorate to forgive him for having broken his word and not voting against increases in student tuition fees. But a satirical website added music to the track. It is difficult to be sure if the apology was heartfelt or insincere, but it turned out to be a catchy tune.

Researchers suggest that people have too high an expectation of the power of saying sorry. Dutch psychologist David De Cremer and his colleagues say in a study published in Psychological Science that receiving an apology isn't as healing as people like to think.

Nevertheless, apologies might be an important social tool as they reaffirm the existence of rules that need to be observed.

In Britain, the word sorry is often said and heard. If you step on someone else's toe by chance you have to apologise but the person whose foot was squashed has to do it too. It conveys the idea that none of you is left with hard feelings.

The Education Secretary's apology might have gone down well with his old teacher but it might land him in trouble. According to the Daily Mail newspaper, Mr Gove's mother didn't know he was causing trouble at school and said: "He would have been strung up if I had known he was being so cheeky."

"I can never get in touch with him these days - it just goes through to his answering machine - but when I do eventually speak to him, I'll give him a good telling off."

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